Recent comments

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Like all new technology it will take a while for the general public to learn to use these devices and where they can be used effectively. I doubt the Utah couple would have had much success with one in the Grand Canyon as PLB's don't seem to work there. The recent rescues in Sequoia are what these items where made for. Those that "go it alone" usually would prefer to stay out of touch, but family members sleep better knowing they\we have some means of communication to the outside world. A man died in the Wind River area of Wyoming because a boulder rolled on to his leg and was way to big for him to move it. According to the article it did not sould like he did anything dumb, just bad luck. If he had one of these he might still be treking today, but unfortunately, he was not found for a year. Regardless of the person(s) training, occassionaly they will get activated unneccessarily, but when they do and it is needed, the SAR folks will have a good set of coordinates to where to begin looking, money and lives will be saved. Events on Ranier and Hood these pat few years come to mind as places that experienced groups needed to be saved and the SAR teams involved needed all the advantages they could get.

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I certainly think this "always connected" technology brings advantages to the individual, and can be helpful to emergency responders. I typically carry ham radio equipment into the California, Oregon, and Nevada wilderness areas I visit for some of the same reasons. As a reliable device specifically designed to signal for emergency help, there's evidence that the SPOT system is not as reliable and effective as a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). (We discussed ways to call for help from the wilderness in The WildeBeat edition 122, titled Calling for Help Revisited.)

    But collectively, as a society, I'm wondering if making easier for people to call for help from the backcountry causes us to lose as much or more than we gain.

    Reading your article reminds me of an exchange I had in an interview with Ranger Laurel Boyers, who was the manager of Yosemite's wilderness for 11 years, and worked in the Yosemite wilderness for over 30 years. Here's a bit of the transcript of that interview:

    STEVE: And that brings us to some of the latest of devices, like the personal locator beacons that sort of give you an instant nine one one back there.

    LAUREL BOYERS: Which I think is really sad. I think that takes much of the wildness out of it. And I'm very sorry for that... When you talk to peple about -- you ask somebody to tell you their best wilderness experience, what was the coolest trip you ever took, invariably, they'll tell you a story of surviving something. Of something that really stretched them out, that really tested their mettle, you know, tested who they were, and made them really proud and got the endorphins going, and got them all pumped up. It's not the time that you look down at your thing and said, you know, "come get me, I just twisted my ankle", or whatever. It's, "I toughed it out and I made it off the hill and I had to drag myself on my injured ankle," ...or, "it poured and I had this horrendous creek crossing." Or, you know, whatever is was, it was something that really tested them, and that is so key to why wilderness is important to our heart and soul and spirit, because it provides a place where we're really more at one with nature... Now we're living in boxes, we drive around in boxes, we stay in boxes, we're very insulated from the natural world. And the more we use technology to insulate ourselves while we're out there, the more we loose in my opinion.

    Ranger Boyers appeared in a number of editions of The WildeBeat, including Keeping Bears Hungry, Ranger Changes, Thanks Ranger Boyers!, Ticket to Half Dome, and Calling for Help Revisited.

    Here's the core question: Are you having a wilderness experience if you can rescued from it at your first inconvenience?
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    10-minute weekly documentaries to help you appreciate our wild public lands.
    A 501c3 non-profit project of Earth Island Institute.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Kirby & Frank;

    I am putting real estate and regional relocation information that I use for my own pre-purchase research (Olympic Peninsula & Alaska) on a separate temporary webpage. (This will be moved to my regular website.) Please e-mail me with any questions/comments.


  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    My name is Sunny Smith and I am the Marketing Manager for BarZ Adventures, the makers of the GPS Ranger multimedia tour guide system. We appreciate your interest in our GPS video tours at the National Parks and now have tours operating at 8 different resources within the National Park system. In addition to those that you mentioned, we also have tours at Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park that both launched August 19th. We also have a tour at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia, which actually was our first tour to be installed in 2007. I would like to respond to some of your comments if I may. Our aim with the GPS Ranger in National Parks is not to replace Ranger-led tours. In contrast, we feel as though our products are a great supplement to the other interpretive services that the parks offer. In MLK National Historic Site, for example, a visitor that would like to tour Martin Luther King's birth home can only do so through a live, ranger-led tour. Our tour product alerts visitors of this along with the times and schedules so that they can take advantage of this offering. To this effect, our tour goes hand in hand with the live tours, and actually encourages participation by delivering event information. Also, as mentioned by others in the above comments, our tours offer an alternative for those visitors that may not want to be in a large group tour, would like to travel at their own pace, or would like the flexibility of different start and stop times that better coincides with their schedules (the GPS Ranger is always ready to go as needed).

    In response to Kirby's commentary above, consistency and quality are two of the main benefits of a GPS Ranger tour. Instead of getting the mediocre park ranger, you always get the best and most informative version. Our Vicksburg tour is a prime example of this. Hosted by Terrence Winschel, the foremost Civil War historian and park ranger, tour-goers get a compelling and informative tour with a Civil War expert to over 70 points of interest! On a ranger-led tour, you may or may not get such an informative and engaging experience.

    The GPS Ranger is a perfect way to open up access to interpretive information to even more visitors. As tours can be delivered in any language (indeed our Independence, Zion and Bryce tours are all available in 6 different languages) non-English speaking or foreign visitors to the parks can take a tour in their native language. And as you mentioned, Captioning and American Sign Language are also opening up tours to the deaf and hard of hearing. BarZ Adventures is committed to increasing accessibility to the National Parks for visitors with disabilities and are starting our foray into Audio Descriptive tours for the blind and visually impaired. The interactive GPS maps are also beneficial for listing accessibility information and locations (handicap parking, ramps, accessible trails and picnic tables, etc).

    We feel that our tools are a supplement and alternative to other forms of interpretive information (with the additional added benefit of making National Parks more relevant and accessible to the younger generation through technology), as well as a way for parks to counteract reduced funding while still meeting their interpretive missions. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about our systems or current tour venues. Thank you.

  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Hi Ted,

    My name is Sunny Smith and I am the Marketing Manager for BarZ Adventures, the maker of the GPS Ranger multimedia tour guide device. For a primer on the product and how it works, you can visit the Products page of our website: and the Technology page for more technical information:

    We implement our mission by working with various organizations within the National Park System, such as cooperating associations, like the Death Valley Natural History Association, Zion Natural History Association, or Shenandoah National Park Trust, contracted concessionaires within the parks like Eastern National, or independent tour operators that are interested in creating tour products for national park visitors, such as our relationship with Utah based, GeoQuest Tours. Please feel free to contact us with any specific questions you may have.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Bob Janiskee;

    No, I did not get a sense that you 'shaded' The Economist's 'Disney-message'. But I will say they themselves 'massaged' the message ill-advisedly. (I have not read their article.)


    "Environmentalists pose the greatest obstacle to restoring national park attendance to historically higher norms; by blocking needed convenience- and entertainment- related developments in the parks, environmentalists have taken away the main tool for increasing park attractiveness."

    I think that statement partially mis-characterizes what environmentalists are up to with their agenda, and makes it facile to conclude that the implied antidote to environmental interference is simple "more circus".

    That is, more specifically, that environmental initiatives seek to impair access using any & all devices available - no just suppressing a narrow range of "convenience" or "entertainment" facilities. If you put those words in The Economist's (anonymous) mouth, or filtered their more-subtle meaning to make your article fit in a tidy space ... well, that's just the hazards of journalism! ;-)

    Candidly, I was pleased & impressed, to see you put up this 'barroom' style invitation to engage in the more-risky aspects of what this forum is, and I think is intended to be about. I.e., in this caliber of engagement, you are sure to 'get it' from the left, or from the right - or from both at the same time!

    My congratulations. :-)

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I think the problem describe in this article is part of a much larger problem with the park system and what defines a "National Park". I agree with Ted on many of his comments, yet environmentalists do bring up some good points. A compromise must be reached but the environmentalists have a history of not willing to compromise.

    I will diverge from The Economist's conclusions, by predicting that is the environmental movement, rather than our Park system, that is in "deep, deep trouble".
    I think this says it best because if the emvironmentalists get nothing done, on any front, they will be in "deep, deep troble".

  • Giving a Name to Yosemite Area Peak for Longtime Ranger Carl Sharsmith.   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Some of you might remember Larry Nahm, one of Yosemite National Park's first librarians. Larry worked with many of us who had the privilege of residing in Yosemite during the early 1970's. I just received the following account from Larry of a recent hike he took up to the summit of Sharsmith Peak on the eastern border of Yosemite, and have received his permission to share this account online.

    [Note Larry's reference to Yosemite's legendary seasonal ranger-naturalists of former times.]

    It was a good, leg-stretching ramble yesterday to the top of Sharsmith Peak with the Bristlecone Chapter of the Ca. Native Plant Society. Leader Cathy Rose, as always, performed splendidly telling stories, evoking memories of Carl (and Will Neely and Bob Fry en passant). Ivesia, Lemmon's paintbrush, rock fringe, sorrel and alpine gold were among many species still abloom. We saw several of the endangered pikas and frogs. Marmots, reportedly, had a day or two earlier settled in for the winter; none were heard or observed. A prairie falcon, harassed for an instant by a smaller bird, zoomed out of sight. Twelve folks made the saunter, but three stopped short of the summit. A sextet from the Yosemite Association passed us, and summitted first.

    I rest sore muscles today, and recall the greater energy enjoyed back when....But the salubriousness of the alpine air, of the alpine ethos--it seems undiminished.

    Enjoy summer's remains.


  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Lloyd S.;

    Thanks for the straight-up description of good, typical, play & work by the rules Americans. The compromising labors & unglamorous job-commitments of the many, is what enables our modern civilization to ... imagine & create National Parks, among other improvements.

    We created a social system that promised benefits to those who signed up for long tours in the economic trenches, and we owe them ... including a slice of the Parks.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    No, but I think it is the line "less kid-safe" that does it.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Are there others who think that my summary left the impression that The Economist has argued for 'Disneyfication" of America's national parks? That certainly was not what I had in mind.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    It sounds like the real problem is the lack of money NPS has for operations and imporvements at our National Parks.
    It is a new spin on an old problem that is only getting worse.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Coming back to the original bullet point: "Americans believe that their national parks are much less entertaining, less user-friendly, and less kid-safe than they should be."

    This is a value statement. Allow me to re-phrase that same statement: "Americans believe that their national parks should be much more entertaining."

    What does this mean, really? A major synonym of "entertaining" is "amusing", and there lies my problem with "making national parks more entertaining (amusing)." Put "amusing" and "park" together, and, well, you've got Disneyland. If you're looking for an amusement park experience, then by all means, please visit one of the 259 amusement parks in America. But please keep bungee jumping, ziplines, roller coasters, log rides, smashed penny machines, carnivals, and all their related "amusements" out of national parks.

    If an individual can't find entertainment or enjoyment in tracking animals, watching ants work, sitting next to a towering waterfall, canoeing, hiking, exploring Anasazi ruins, discovering dinosaur tracks, or strolling through wildflower fields, then national parks are not for this individual. No one should compromise what national parks are for the amusement of, as Beamis puts it, the "bloated, mind-numbed masses of postmodern America".

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    First of all, I'd suggest that people read the Economist Article. That's a good summary here, but contrary to the impression left, the Economist is not advocating the Disneyfication of our National Parks. They mostly advoacte maintenance and renovation, with some modern conveniences added in. It didn't sound like too much of a nightmare, though I don't think I would do anything to facilitate cell phones and TV watching in the parks.

    I think Ted Clayton and Kirby Adams pretty much have the right of this discussion. I consider myself an environmentalist, but the snobbery (I'd say elitism if the Republicans hadn't misappropriated the word) I saw in few of the commenters here is appalling. If the Parks are only for those relatively few Americans who appreciate complete wilderness, then the Economist was right. Why should the rest of the population pay for something used by only a tiny minority and a bunch of animals? And I don't place much faith in voluntary contributions either. I think what we'd end up with is sky high user fees. That way we can ensure that only a few people get to see them, but those few will be very rich. Or maybe those Eurpoean vistors will pay for the Parks.

    I envy people who can access the roadless wildernesses with just the packs on their backs. It's not going to happen much for me though. I'm 44 years old with a bad back, limited budgets and vacation time. For people like me, the public areas of our National Parks or a National Forest campground are often as close as we can get to a wilderness experience. And those retirees in their RV's? Well they've been working their whole lives just so they could have a few years to tour the country and see the wonders of the Parks. Those families with screaming kids in the cafeteria? Where do you think environmentalists come from? How do learn to appreciate nature if you never see it? How many parents do you know that are willing to take their young kids on extended wilderness hikes?

    The National Parks were never solely about preservation. They were established for the benefit and use of of the American people. They were intended to help teach people to appreciate and want to protect nature, and to bring them closer to nature, not to exclude them from it.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    For Now

    Most new immigrants go to state parks, but that may change as time goes on as Hispanics are a sort of new part of the population is many parts of the US.

    One "thing" that may or may not be a problem is how the NPS can't advertises. I am personally conflicted on this issue.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 48 weeks ago


    Thank you both again for your insight on this matter. It is definitely something worth exploring when this issue once again goes to court. (Notice I didn't say "If"...) It would seem that these practices do fall under the "C&T" heading, but I do see that "securing" them legally would be problematic, especially this late in the game. Had this point been pondered prior to the lawsuit that created the CD, it may have had a chance to be enacted. These days, I have my doubts. It would seem that "Establishment" may exist today, by your descriptions, and the fact that ROW's exist in the guise of "Interdunal" roads that are located for the most part West of the dune lines, with many of these roads being decades old. The beach itself could also be considered an ROW, in many places.

    I do consider this to be useful information against what we face in CHNSRA, as we need every legal loophole out there to help keep access. I plan to get this information in front of those who can make the best use of it, and see what they think. Thank you both again for your excellent descriptions of how a similar issue played out in far-away Alaska, and how it can possibly work in Cape Hatteras. I think I understand it well enough now to attempt to pass it along. Warning, some plaregism of your posts may be necessary! I hope you don't mind...

    Thanks again!


  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I have trouble seeing anything negative about this. I just got back from an extended trip through Olympic, Theodroe Roosevelt, Badlands, and Yellowstone National Parks. I saw a lot of the old-school interpretation you speak of, Kurt. And I hate to say this, but old school isn't always the best school. Yes, I saw some beautiful interaction between rangers (perhaps volunteers?) and families at Hurricane Ridge. I was also warmly engaged by several rangers at the Hoh VC. I was really impressed by the knowledge of these folks and their willingness to say "I don't know" when the subject at hand exceeded their knowledge. I mean no arrogance by this, but I usually walk into a national park knowing more about specific aspects of natural history than a lot of the rangers. I spent two years studying Olympic natural history before going there. That's just my thing. I love probing the rangers to find any morsels they have to add to my book learning. Unfortunately outside of my experience at the rainforest in ONP, I've run into some rangers that don't seem to grasp more than the list of memorized facts they regurgitate. I also saw a lot of verbal regurgitation that lacked any enthusiasm. While a ranger at Hurricane Ridge had a bunch of ultra-hyper kids all excited and focused on sub-alpine meadow ecology, there was another young ranger stumbling through a monotone presentation about the mountains that was painful to watch.

    Like teachers in our schools, there will be rangers with the talent to interpret and those that simply can't. I think electronic interpretation filling in some gaps that lack of funds or lack of skill create can only be a good thing. And just as the Internet hasn't sent books to their grave, GPS units won't replace rangers, be they grand or mediocre.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago


    I can empathize with your frustration with the environmentalist movement. I cringe at the public actions of environmental groups that only serve as fodder for the "environmentalist wackos" commentaries on Rush Limbaugh's show. No one's going to make an environmentalist of Limbaugh, but a lot of mainstream America is repulsed by comments that are seemingly or genuinely misanthropic. That's why my money goes to groups like the Nature Conservancy, an organization built more on principles of true conservation than Ed Abbey-style "set fire to the billboards" - even if that means (gasp!) sleeping with the corporate enemy now and then.

    I can't speak for Barky and Frank, but my reaction to the entertainment comments was born of the sentiment you accuse Frank of holding - that the parks are for people seeking distance from Disney and Hollywood and Microsoft, and that not an inch (beyond the visitor centers, that actually make some serious effort at education) should be sacrificed to these conventional consumer lifestyles for the sake of attracting more visitors that won't appreciate anything outside of the entertainment complexes anyway. I suspect a higher percentage of land in this country is already devoted to consumerist entertainment than the percentage of folks who prefer such entertainment over the kind you and I enjoy. I will take your point that the message mustn't be snarling, sneering, or snickering, but I won't concede that parks must be comprised to any further extent than they already are. I don't know that you're saying that either. Your gripe is more with the delivery than the message?

    The problem here is that the situation for the preservation of wilderness and nature is dire. Measured words and compromises will end with defeat of the minority. In my opinion, the great diversity of lifestyles you speak of, while certainly a beauty of humanity, are not compatible with great diversity and vitality of the natural world given population growth run amok. Those who love land unsullied by human hands are left to vehemently defend the last refuges and/or rail against population growth. Both of those courses are likely to marginalize us, unless we find some means of inciting a respectable passion without writing the new Monkey Wrench Gang. I'm not sure how that's going to happen.

    And, having just returned from ten glorious days in ONP and the San Juan Islands, let me say that I envy you for every day you get to spend out there. When finances allow, I hope to join you. I need to milk a little more cash out of corporate America first, hoping the monster will fund my own escape from it

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Kirby said:

    "Frank's frustration [is] with the need to make every square inch of our country entertaining, user-friendly ...
    My distinct impression is that, more accurately, Frank objects that any square inch of a Park unit is developed in line with conventional consumer lifestyles. And, I think Frank is forthrightly expressing the environmentalist norm there - not just his own viewpoint.

    Kirby, Frank, Barky: I have lived all my life in the woods of the Olympic Peninsula. I spent a long hitch in the Navy ... got a peek at Florida, upstate Illinois ... a long peek at San Diego and San Fransisco (Oceania, Asia, etc) ... and returned thankfully to the woods. I know the natural estate as relatively few are privileged ... and I seek it, embrace it, and pay the cost of abiding with it, by preference.

    If there is anything I have less use for - personally - than rampant Western consumerism, it might be rampant Western corporatism (two sides of the same dubious coin, imo). I share these basic objections & sensitivities of conventional environmentalism, and others.

    I am speaking out here against the positions expressed by Barky & Frank, partly to defend the Great Unwashed who are the human victims of the 'anti' sentiment, but also in rebuke & warning to a fallacious and self-destructive modus operandi of the environmental movement.

    Environmentalism will do neither me nor the assets it purports to protect any good, if it defames itself and ends up going the way of the Hippies ... which I think is a good description of what is unfolding right now. Environmentalism is on track to become the dissipated, long-haired joke of yesteryear.

    Hippies espoused Peace (cool!), Love (yeah!), and Dope. Dope? What kind of stupid trash-talk is that? Had the Hippie movement been able to rid itself of the perverse fetish of drugs, it may have won the world. Seriously. Those of us who were there will testify, it was more powerful & pervasive than environmentalism has ever been. Did I not see John Lennon invoked?

    Environmentalism likewise embodies wonderful principles & ideals. And, it has developed an abiding, increasingly snarling hostility toward the culture & society in which it is embedded. It looks at the great diversity of lifestyles which differ from it's own model, and sneers. It looks at the great democratic tradition that gave it birth, and snickers.

    Environmentalists have perhaps one fourth the ballot-power needed to enact their viewpoint within a democracy ... and they are progressively setting themselves up as the enemy of the three quarters. Do the math.

    The outcome of these (essentially anti-social) environmental policies, postures & attitudes is likely to be rejection by & marginalization within society ... not unlike what happened to the Hippies. Environmentalism is stepping over the line, and the Sleeping Giant appears to be waking.

    People who love and are committed to environmentalism really ought to do some serious reflection soon ... and toss the bong before their dreams go up in smoke.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    As nearly every individual in this forum has stated the same reaction to this discussion, National Parks were not established for the entertainment and modernization of contemporary America. Well, no sh*t Sherlock. Anyone who would demand our National Parks were "customized" should be deemed insane and sent away - in my mind. But the truth is that the majority of Americans tend towards a disrespectful approach to "animals, nature, wildlife, conservation et al..." Our society grows more intolerably ignorant with every passing day! just turn on the boob tube. It is appalling when someone can pick up a whole bag full of trash on a trail in one of our parks. The only thing that concerns me here is that this lack of interest would generate less tax dollars to fund the maintenance of the parks. My father has worked at Shenandoah National Park for nearly 30 years (getting ready to retire ; ) as a park maintenance crew member - Since Bush began the heavily outsourcing projects a few years back, I think around 9/11 thousands of National Park employees have been laid off and fired. With the amount of employees left there is no way to keep up with maintaining trails going deeper into wilderness, nor is it necessary. Over time there will be less trails, and less visitors in our parks, requiring less maintenance. Which means the parks will generate less "income", however the overhead will continue to decrease significantly. Our National Parks will cost obsolete tax dollars to maintain. It may also be mentioned that it is not a lack of interest of the public towards our National Park system that is the cause; the cause of the decline is the root of that issue, in that the Federal Government did not properly maintain interest in the parks with advertising. And the minimal advertisment they did use merely portraythe parks to be tourist attractions - instead of places of preservation! The Federal Government or ratherpowers above it have influenced the world to behave in ridiculous ways. Unless something is done about this CIA/KGB method of brainwashing to create profits for trillionaires, as in a conscious effort of the masses to reject "public opinion" altering techniques - this world is headed for sh*t anyways, and all of our National Parks will be nuked, and none of this will even matter - but if the world doesn't end soon in fire and brimstone then yes, conservation and global warming are important issues, and "public opinion" regarding these issues needs a major shift in the opposite direction, a task easily achieved by the powers that be ; )

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    A great invention.

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Tastes change, institutions change and different races of people will predominate for varying periods time of in any given locale.

    Enjoying wilderness and the outdoors is becoming a less and less popular pastime for the bloated, mind-numbed masses of postmodern America. That's just great by me! I don't want them there anyway.

    The Euros enjoy the parks and they've got a more valuable currency (at least it is this week) to spend here so let's welcome them with open arms. They actually like to hike and learn about natural history too. Go figure.

    No matter how busy a park is I can always find a place to go where I won't be bothered. A spot where I can take off my clothes and swim or roll boulders down on unsuspecting motor-homes while remaining undetected by the gun-toting LE rangers. Parks are a laugh a minute for me whether crowded or deserted.

    This whole issue is a non-starter. The Economist? Does anyone actually read that anymore?

  • The Economist Warns that America’s National Park System is in Deep, Deep Trouble   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Actually, though, entertainment is a normal, healthy human behavior. Our propensity for and capability to create settings for entertainment and the social & psychological rewards it brings, is one of the more attractive things about humans.

    Ted, I'm sure you appreciate that there are many definitions of "entertainment", and that what is arguably the most attractive trait of humans, our individuality, grants us all the right to define what entertains each of us. I would submit that it is obvious The Economist uses "entertainment" in the context of the referenced article with its grandest Disneyesque connotation. I have friends that save up for years to go to Disneyworld. To me, any location labeled as "Disney" is synonymous with hell on earth. To each his own, and I thank God for the Disney properties for those who favor them, as earnestly as I give thanks for the national parks I visit for precisely the purpose of escaping the social interactions forced upon me daily. You may call me a misanthrope, but I'm not the only one. (Sorry, started channeling John Lennon there.) Frank's frustration with the need to make every square inch of our country entertaining, user-friendly, and kid-safe is not unique to him. We're ever-growing in numbers and our refuges for the entertainment we enjoy are rapidly being taken from us. For now the parks, save for a hundred yard radius around the tourist-trap visitor centers/gift shops, still stand as havens for those seeking the best nature has to offer - sans-society. I pray they continue to be woefully boring.

    Now, for an another argument, you can suggest that without an adequate study of how many people Like Frank and me pay taxes, this money shouldn't be used to prop up entertainment-less parks. We can save that for a later day. Being of several minds on that argument, I can't articulate my thoughts at this late hour.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Find Me, Spot. Staying Found in The National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Spot is a step in a good direction. It combines several independent, pre-existing services, to make a useful new service.

    The unit-cost is $169.99, which is certainly ball-park or better for devices in this genre.

    The base service-fee is $99.99/yr, likewise a realistic outlay for normal people. The Google Map/tracker option is $49.99, which could be a nice 3rd-party gift.

    As a 'peace of mind' status-tracker, it sounds good, and cost-effective. As a way of recording information as you proceed on your adventure (update your website?) this isn't it. Yet.

  • Another Look at Those GPS Rangers in the National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    When I walk in the creek-canyons and woods surrounding my home here on the Olympic Peninsula, I come across many specific specimens & sites that I want to remember & revisit, to watch how they develop and further pursue thoughts & questions that they stimulate.

    Long ago, I began to take notes on my walks, first describing locations in terms of dead-reckoning and triangulation from other features (it is often very hard to return to a given site within the trackless 'jungle' here.

    Later, I began using my GPS to record the location of ... great ancient snags, robust patches of Devil's Club, the stray Dogwood, a Wild Ginger bed, nurse logs ... it's endless!

    I am going to investigate this GPS Ranger product to see how it works, and how they try to implement the 'mission' ... which seems fairly close to my own activity.